An independent autopsy report confirms 26-year-old Patrick Lyoya was shot in the back of the head by a Grand Rapids, Michigan police officer during a traffic stop on April 4.
The report, released Tuesday (April 19), offers the first piece of science-supported evidence to back-up cellphone and body camera footage which captured the fatal shooting. The graphic video shows Lyoya was faced down on the ground when an unidentified police officer pulled the trigger.
“There’s no question what killed this young man. … It was a powerful bullet,” Dr. Werner Spitz, a Detroit-area medical examiner who was involved in the autopsies of President John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, said during a news conference this week. Spitz added that he believes the gun was pressed against Lyoya’s head when the bullet was fired.
Civil rights attorney, Ben Crump, is representing Lyoya’s family and said at the press conference that they believe the officer racially profiled the father of two before pulling him over.
Two legal experts –– Dr. David A. Harris, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, and Jeffery A. Fagan of Columbia Law School –– told MLive.com that several errors were made during the traffic stop and that manslaughter charges “are inevitable.”
Citing the dangers that foot chases bring to officers and bystanders, Harris said the Grand Rapids officer shouldn’t have pursued Lyoya, adding that the move was “risky” and not needed.
“You have their vehicle right there,” Harris told the outlet, adding that the officer could’ve checked the VIN of the car if he wanted to confirm the registration and tags.
“The idea that you have to chase everybody down who tries to get away from you is simply false,” Harris added. “When the offense is the wrong plate on the car, there’s no justification for it.”
Fagan said that according to law, manslaughter charges should be on the way against the officer. Fagan added that “at no point was the officer’s life in danger.”
“He shot as if the victim was armed and dangerous, which he wasn’t” Fagan added.
Lyoya’s family started a GoFundMe to cover funeral expenses.
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